Don’t Make New Years Resolutions, Make Vision Boards

Post Written January 3, 2009 for Startup

I don’t believe in New Years Resolutions, but, before you judge (or think that I’m judging you) hear me out. In the past, I have started each year with a renewed sense of accomplishment and positive thinking.  I follow up this cheery thought with ambitious goals.  Lose 20 pounds, make X amount of money, send birthday cards to family on time…the list goes on. A couple months later I lose my positive attitude and stop focusing on my resolutions and then I fall into a slippery slope that ends in a mild depression. Then it takes me a couple of months to get out of my why-can’t-I-keep-a-resolution funk and get on with my life. Last year, at the beginning of 2008 I didn’t make a single resolution or a single New Years goal, I created a vision board and it was the best year of my life.

Though I haven’t been able to get back to my pre-baby weight (my son, Gavin, was born January 8th), I’m still struggling with getting birthday wishes to the ones I love BEFORE their birthday, and I had one of the worst years for revenue (are there bailouts for small businesses?? Just kidding.).  All that said I’ve never felt better about myself.  I didn’t have to get over the why-can’t-I-keep-a-resolution blues, which made my year all the better.

Does that mean that I don’t periodically set goals or evaluate where I am and where I can improve? No.  Does that mean that I didn’t have goals last year or things that I wanted to accomplish?   Certainly not.  I had a very productive year and made some great strides in my business.  I just went about it a different way.

Here’s what I do:

I create a vision board.  I updated it in September of this year for my session at the Startup Princess Touchpoint conference.  I have updated it for 2009 and am sharing a picture of it with you, here.  I like seeing my dreams in pictures.  I have a picture that represents my financial goals – even though I don’t put the actual number.  I have a visual of my marketing and media opportunities and ways I want to expand my business.  I even have pictures of the new office furniture I want, which sounds silly, but that’s the same way I got my new flatbed scanner.  I like visualizing myself having already achieved these goals.  I like to trust the universe and what God has in store for me, because I know that He thinks more good for me and my business, than I do for myself.

I take time, once a month, to relax, reflect, ponder and review.  I look at what I did, I look at what I didn’t do, and I look at what I want to do next.  Goals and resolutions are not a yearly thing for me; I work best in smaller chunks of time.  Though I get most of my success for imagining the end result and the big picture, from there I work backwards to break down my dreams into smaller manageable tasks and activities, and that’s where achievement takes place for me.

Finally, I say “no” a lot more.  I’ll admit I have a ways to go, but in 2008 I became a little more of myself and said no to events, opportunities and activities that didn’t bring me closer to the vision of my perfect life.  Sometimes that meant saying “no” to evening computer time and focusing on my family.  Sometimes that meant saying “no” to business lunches or partnerships that were more one-sided (and not in my favor).  I remind myself that my son is in the middle of my vision board for a reason.  I remind myself that I chose to own my own business so that I could have flexibility and so that I can rule my own time and not let others do it for me.

My final thought is do what’s best for you.  Though this one little change in my life has done wonders for my self-esteem and productivity, it may not work for everyone.  I don’t judge those who have blog posts on January first with New Year’s Resolutions.  In fact, I read them and send good thoughts to friends and family that want this year to be a good year.  I believe that there’s room for all of us to create the lives we want to have – even if we go about it differently.

What about you? Are you a successful resolution maker and keeper?  Do you have a system that has helped you grow in business and family? Are you making resolutions this year or is this the year that you give yourself a chance to try a new approach to life balance?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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